How to Inspire a Fully Remote Team and Propel Agency Growth
How can you propel agency growth while removing yourself from operations? How can you manage a fully remote team while keeping an active, fun work culture? What is it like to work with big tech brands? Today’s guest saw a huge jump in her agency’s growth during the pandemic and discovered the benefits of growing a remote team. Now she is figuring out what an agency office like looks like for her team in a post-pandemic world.
Lisa Larson-Kelley is the founder and CEO of Quantious, a premier marketing agency specializing in emerging technology. She’s grown the agency from a 2 person operation to a team of over 15 people working with the biggest names in tech, like Meta (formerly Facebook) and Shopify to name a couple. Her agency growth started to really take off just as the pandemic hit and she found many benefits in working remotely.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Creating an agency that becomes a trusted partner for big brand clients.
- The benefits and opportunities of working remotely.
- The most important decision for massive agency growth.
Get to know your Smart Agency Guest Host: Dr. Jeremy Weisz is the co-founder of Rise25, an agency that helps companies launch and run podcasts profitably. He followed Jason’s podcast and eventually joined the mastermind and has been a guest on the podcast before. Today, he’s helping Jason bring something new to the Smart Agency podcast audience by interviewing a special guest and bringing a new perspective to the show.
Sponsors and Resources
E2M Solutions: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out e2msolutions.com/smartagency and get 10% off for the first three months of service.
Building an Agency as a Trusted Advisor in the Tech Sector
Lisa started her career in design back when working in tech didn’t seem like an option. She was passionate about tech and coding and eventually became part of a group of developers that worked at Flash Media. Joining Flash was the perfect jumping point to get back into coding and on the development side. Her work in app development opened the door to attend conferences as an expert and continue to learn about tech. For years she was immersed in emerging technologies, first as a developer herself, and then as a trainer and marketer.
As a marketer, she knows how to tell complicated stories in a simple manner and built a team of like-minded people. Her agency has become a trusted partner working with the biggest names in tech like Meta and Shopify. Working as a secret weapon for these companies, they work on things like back-office operations and augmented reality experiences. With Meta, they worked on ways to show the many possibilities of using their collaboration software for businesses, Workplace, which they had struggled to market.
Typically, her agency is called to assist a company that is adjusting to its growth process. They need support from an experienced team that can help them with onboarding, documentation, and processes. Their mission is to make their client look good and don’t really feel a need to have the spotlight.
Finding Success in a Transition to a Fully Remote Team
Lisa was just thinking about investing in a bigger space to accommodate new team members when the pandemic started and she was forced to make the drastic shift to going fully remote. They were about 10% remote before, with some of the team working from home at least once a week. However, it was still a big adjustment to make overnight.
We all remember how uncertain those first few weeks of the pandemic felt and the struggle to get used to the new reality. Thankfully, they got settled into the new situation quickly and Lisa realized it was actually going really well. The work didn’t stop for her agency, as more and more companies were interested in the tech they needed to go fully remote. The work grew and so she needed to hire more talent. She realized she wasn’t necessarily limited to hiring in New York area any longer and started recruiting all over the US. It was a shift that really enriched the quality of their work as an agency. Instead of investing in a bigger office space, she figured out how to manage people across different states.
Now they focus on keeping everyone connected with daily meetings, Slack, and some creative solutions like work games. They have “Teaser Tuesdays”, where everyone competes in games like Wordle as a way to connect and have fun. All in all, they make sure to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, invest in professional development, and show their appreciation to keep the team motivated and creative.
What is the Future of Remote Working?
Lisa sees a lot of push and pull over staying remote or going back to the office in the tech world. On one hand, a home office is now very ingrained in the younger generations. On the other, many insist going back to normal should include going back to the office. Each has its own set of pros/cons, of course. There is a beauty to working in person and seeing your co-workers at the office. However, putting effort into providing remote opportunities is also very important.
Furthermore, not everyone wants to go back to the awful open-floor offices that were so popular before the pandemic. It is a complex issue that can’t be solved by just ordering everyone back into the office but rather requires reimagining how that would look in a post-pandemic world.
Benefits of Having a Remote Agency
Working remotely has actually helped Lisa’s agency in many ways. For example, diversity of time zones within the team has been a major benefit. There are team members in different time zones working closely with clients in different areas. There’s also the flexibility of working a schedule to accommodate to your activities. This allows everyone to work during the time of day when they are the most productive.
If you have an open mind, you can also see the benefits of having different points of view on something. Lisa is in New York and someone from New Mexico or Florida will have different points of view and have different ideas.
#1 Most Important Decision to Propel Agency Growth
Hiring a VP of Operations was a crucial move that really impacted Lisa’s agency’s growth. For a long time, she was sitting in two seats. Letting go of operations and starting to think bigger was a total game changer! It’s a huge decision because you want someone who will maintain the same level of detail in the decisions they make.
In short, her process included:
- A year documenting all the things she was doing.
- Listing the tasks she was ready to delegate to someone else.
- Developing a job description based on all that information.
- Working with a recruiter specializing in filling the integrator position.
It still took a while, but she eventually found the perfect person for the job. They connected right away and she understood the agency right away.
Best Agency Advice: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
The most impactful advice she’s gotten, which goes back to her biggest struggle, is to let people go when it’s time. Don’t hold on and give them three or four chances to improve You’re holding them back and holding your agency back from what it could be accomplishing. Since Quantious grew from such a small team, it was especially hard for Lisa to recognize when moving on would be best for the agency. In her opinion, the sooner you can do it the better — or as they say, hire slow and fire fast.
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